Earlier this year, AquaGlide unveiled their updated inflatable kayak lineup for 2021, which included a new category of packable kayaks – the Backwoods Series. The Backwoods consists of three models weighing from 7 to 12 lbs, making them prime choices for remote travel.
Our first review on AquaGlide’s new Backwoods Series for 2021 focuses on the Expedition 85, an 8′ 6″ long, ultralite inflatable kayak designed for backpacking and solo paddling. (Please note: some of the information will be repeated from other writeups.)
Getting Started with the Aquaglide Backwoods Expedition 85 Packable Inflatable Kayak
We unpacked the box and laid out the pieces – inflatable kayak/packraft body, carrying case (which doubles as an inflation bag), instructions, repair kit (no glue), tracking fin, seat, foot pump and two mesh bags.
Initial measurements showed the kayak body weighs approximately 12 lbs, with a folded size of 22 x 13 x 11 inches. The kayak with seat, fin and pump – all in the backpack – weighs roughly 15 lbs. All boxed up, the dimensions are 23 x 15 x 14 inches with a shipping weight of 20 lbs.
(AirKayaks Side note #1: When initially removing the kayak from the carrying case, take a good look at how the kayak is folded. This is probably the most overlooked step and it is VERY helpful when trying to get the kayak back into the bag.)
We started off by reading the instructions. While Aquaglide’s manuals were somewhat sketchy in the past, the included instructions were detailed and easy to use (all languages are now in their own section).
Set up is straight-forward and simple – unpack, unfold, inflate.
There are two Boston valves (side and the floor) with two more small chambers utilizing a twistlock valve for the seat. Boston valves are two-part, screw-on valves. The bottom portion is threaded onto the kayak, the top valve is screwed open for inflation and then tightened shut after inflation. Air is easily released by unscrewing the base connector. How does it work? A flap inside the valve opens when air is pumped into the kayak, and falls shut when not pumped so that air will not rush back out.
(AirKayaks Side note #2: The Boston valves have a tether that keeps the valve attached to the kayak, ensuring that the valves don’t get lost after deflating. Make sure that the tether does not get in the way when screwing on the valve base,and the valve is not cross-threaded, or you may have some air leakage.)
The Expedition 85 comes with two methods of inflation – a small, lightweight foot pump and an inflator bag (which also doubles as the carrying case). How does the inflator bag work? The premise is to shake the inflator bag to